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Friday, August 28, 2009

That immigrant spirit of limitless possibility...

I am sure many of you watched yesterday morning as the Kennedy family gathered outside of their compound in Hyannis Port to watch as former Senator Ted Kennedy's casket was carried outside of the grounds for the last time.

The Kennedy motorcade traveled through Boston, tracing a 70 mile route designed to pass through key points in the Senator's life.

The motorcade did not pass through Texas but we feel the pain of Senator Kennedy's death in our state just as we reap the benefits of the policies he fought for during his life. He was an advocate for the everyday American and one of his most personal crusades was for the American immigrant.

One of Senator Kennedy's first legislative achievements was in 1965 when he passed a bill to eliminate the immigration quota system which made it virtually impossible for anyone from any country other than those in western Europe to come to America. This bill opened the doors for immigrants who dramatically altered the nation's demography and contributed to a more highly skilled work force.

Most recently, he fought for a bill that would have put around 12 million illegal immigrants on a path to citizenship and would also address short comings with the employer sanctions system. The legislation died in 2007 and in a speech on the Senate floor he told his colleagues, "From the windows of my office in Boston … I can see the Golden Stairs from Boston Harbor where all eight of my great grandparents set foot on this great land for the first time. That immigrant spirit of limitless possibility animates America even today."

Our country will miss such a stalwart advocate for immigrants and let us hope the work he has done for the modern-day legal system of immigration will be built upon throughout the Obama Administration.